Behavioral, Emotional and Social Difficulties

Behavioral, Emotional and Social difficulties

  • The 1944 Education Act introduced the term “maladjustment” to describe pupils who show evidence of psychological disturbance or emotional instability and who would require special education treatment to become readjustment – personally, socially and educationally.
  • While early conceptualization of BESD have frequently been characterized as exclusively ‘with in the child’, there was some acknowledgement of the role of environmental factors.


Behaviour that  is simply disruptive or naughty

  • Result from child ‘experiencing some emotional stress within normal and expected bounds’.
  • Challenges teachers but is within normal. Albeit unacceptable. Bounds


Emotional and Behavioural difficulties

  • Are persistent (if not necessarily permanent) and constitute learning difficulties
  • Range from social maladaption to abnormal emotional stresses’
  • May be associated with school, family or other environments or physical or sensory impairment.
  • May become apparent through withdrawn ,passive ,depressive, aggressive or self-injurious tendencies
  • Mean a child will generally behave unusually or in an extreme fashion to a variety of social, personal, emotional or physical circumstances


Serious mental illness

  • May be episodic, but are generally indicate by significant changes in behavior, emotion or thought process which are prolonged and so severe that, taking into account the child’s development and the social and cultural background, they interfere profoundly with everyday life and are a serious.  Disability for the child the family, friends or those who care or teach the child.

Continuum case studies

  • Nadia 7 years old: Her behavior has caused difficulties throughout her school life. She has poor social skills, is very egocentric, find it difficult for her parents to manage at home. She display some aspect of autism spectrum disorder and of specific  learning difficulties. Nadia ‘s reading and spelling lag over 3 years behind her chronological age, so that she has limited literacy skills. Psychological and speech and language assessment suggest that she has limited verbal skills and some specific phonological difficulties.

Here is the needs of the children

  • ‘Nadia currently has her needs met through School Action Plus but her progress is limited. The SENCO is monitoring the situation so as to decide whether to refer her for statutory assessment’(DfEE2000c: section 6)

Understanding BES difficulties

The Interactive factors (IF) which is based on the work of Morton and Frith(1995) uses three levels of description to explain development problems.

  • The biological level
  • The cognitive level
  • The behavioral level

Behavioral approaches

In the behavioral approaches the primary focus is on behavior that directly observed. It is assumed that behavior is learned through what happen in a child’s environment, so that well established pattern of behavior  can be changed by changing environment consequence or other related events.

Cognitive approaches

In cognitive approaches the primary focus is on cognitive process how the individual perceives events, think about them, plan, and solves problems.

Cognitive theories focus on different process

  • Children’s perception of themselves and their self-esteem.
  • Their attribution for the cause of their difficulties.
  • Their attitudes and how these develop and change

Psychodynamic approaches

  • Psychodynamic approaches are based on the assumption that many of the wishes drives, anxieties and fantasies that determine our behavior are unconscious.
  • Psychodynamic approaches focus on understanding and resolving such internal conflict rather than working directly to reduce the undesirable behavior that result from them.

Types of infant-parent attachment

  • Secure – these infant were happy to see the parent, and if they had been distressed when the parent had left they settled on the parent’s reappearance and re-engage in absorbed play or exploration.
  • Insecure-avoidant – these infant typically showed little distress on separation and when the parent reappeared they moved or turned away, engaging in play and ignoring the parent.
  • Insecure-resistant/ambivalent – these infant were very distressed on separation, and when the parent returned they tended both to seek contact and reject it when offered.

Systematic Approaches

  • In systematic approaches the focus is on reciprocal interaction between individuals and their environment.

Behaviorally-based methods

  • Systematic observation is particularly characteristic of Behaviorally-based assessment. It may be carried out by teacher, pupils  or support professionals such as behavior support teachers or educational psychologist.

Cognitively- based methods

A variety of questionnaires and other techniques are available for use with pupils to assess particular cognitive constructs, such as self-perception.

  • Social Acceptance – assessing how popular the children feel they are and if they believe they have a lot of friends.
  • Athletic Ability assessing the children perception of their athletic ability.
  • Physical Appearance – assessing how attractive the children feel they are.
  • Behavioral Conduct – assessing how  well the children feel they behave and if they like the way they behave.

Psycho dynamically- based method

  • An individual interview is central to most Psychodynamic approaches, sometimes deriving support from the use of projective techniques. The projective hypothesis is based from the assumption that when we respond to something outside ourselves our reactions are partly a reflection of our private inner world.

Positive Reinforcement

  • This is something which is given following the desirable behavior and which increase the occurrence of the behavior in the future.

Negative Reinforcement

  • This is something that increase a pupil’s behavior if it is removed as a result of the behavior. Apologizing for descriptive behavior is likely to be negative  Reinforcement by lessening of teacher displeasure.

Strategies aimed at reducing undesirable behavior

  • Extinction – this involves withdrawing from reinforcement from an undesirable behavior.
  • Time out – this involves removing the pupils for a brief period from all sources of reinforcement.
  • Punishment – For most pupils teacher reprimands or detention are a focus of punishment.
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